Magazine article Sunset

Winter's Flower: From Rich Jewel Tones to Subtle Pinks and Creams, Hellebores Bring Early Color to Your Cool-Season Garden

Magazine article Sunset

Winter's Flower: From Rich Jewel Tones to Subtle Pinks and Creams, Hellebores Bring Early Color to Your Cool-Season Garden

Article excerpt

COVERED IN BLOOMS that range from pale green and creamy white to ruby, garnet, and deep amethyst, hellebores are at their prettiest from winter into spring, when their delicate flowers open like cups or bells amid leathery green leaves. These shade-loving perennials add sparkle any time of year, whether in pots or in garden beds.

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Planting these beauties

Hellebores range from 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, and they thrive in nearly all but the coldest mountain regions and the hottest, driest parts of the West. Many are evergreen. And given the right care, they can live for decades.

Plant them in a spot that gets part to full shade (in Southern California, Corsican hellebore tolerates more sun than other species). Provide good air circulation and well-drained soil that's been amended with compost or organic matter. Alkaline soil is best, but most hellebores can adapt to acid soil.

Set them in the ground with their crowns (the point where their roots and top structure join) slightly higher than the surrounding soil level to avoid crown rot. …

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